Police reaches final; third win for APF

KATHMANDU: Nepal Police Club entered the final of the Pepsi Standard Chartered T20 National Cricket Tournament on Thursday after the match between Region No 4 (Bhairahawa) and Region No 7 (Janakpur) at the TU Cricket Ground, Kirtipur was washed out by rain.

Police, which led the points table with six points from three matches, was under threat from Bhairahawa and Region No 5 (Nepalgunj), but Nepalgunj lost a vital match against Region No 2 (Birgunj) on Thursday at the TU Ground.

Birgunj has four points from as many matches while Bhairahawa has three points from three matches. Nepalgunj is in the fourth spot with two points from three matches, while Janakpur lies at the bottom with one point from three matches.

Janakpur, electing to bat first, scored 113 runs in 20 overs losing nine wickets. Anil Mandal (38) and S Kant Pandey (26) were the top two contributors for Janakpur. Sagar Pun and Bijay Thapa took three wickets each to restrict Janakpur to an ordinary score, but Bhairahawa was unlucky as it could not start the innings because of the downpour.

Meanwhile, Birgunj restricted Nepalgunj to 111/6 in 20 overs in another match and met the target with a wicket and a ball in hand. Subendu Pandey topscored for Nepalgunj with 67 runs off 49 balls, while Jitendra Mukhiya took two wickets for Birgunj. Man-of-the-match Mukhiya scored an unbeaten 24 runs and Dipendra Sah contributed 23 runs to seal victory for Birgunj.

Meanwhile, Nepal APF Club pulled off a third consecutive victory as opener Dipendra Chaudhary scored his second half-century of the tournament and shared an 84-run partnership for the second wicket with Mehboob Alam (79 not out) against Region No 1 (Biratnagar).

APF, electing to bat first, scored 189/3 in the regular 20 overs at the Pulchowk Engineering Ground, Lalitpur. Chaudhary scored 65 runs off 54 balls hitting eight fours and a six, while man-of-the-match Alam played a blistering innings of unbeaten 79 runs off 42 balls. Alam struck eight fours and four huge sixes. Paresh Lohani contributed 23 runs for APF. Ajay Rajbanshi and Unil Shrestha grabbed a wicket each for Biratnagar.

Chasing the mammoth total, Biratnagar was all out for 84 runs in 18.4 overs. Bibek Jha (31) and Sunil Bista (19) were the only batsmen to score in double figures. APF won by a huge margin as Rom Shrestha claimed three wickets, and Sanjam Regmi and Shakti Gauchan bagged two wickets each. Basanta Regmi and Prithu Baskota took a wicket each.

APF has six points from three matches in group A while Region No 3 (Kathmandu) is trailing behind with four points from three matches. Biratnagar, which has four points from four matches, is out of the tournament.

Kathmandu defeated Region No 8 (Pokhara) by seven wickets at the Pulchowk Engineering Ground to keep alive its hopes of reaching the final. Pokhara elected to bat first and scored 110/7 in 20 overs. Skipper Dipesh Khatri topscored with 37 runs while Dipen Lamgade and Arjun Adhikari contributed 21 and 20 runs, respectively. Rikesh Lama and Prasanna Shakya took two wickets each for Kathmandu.

In the run chase, Manoj Sood scored 37 runs and Shakya contributed 33 runs as Kathmandu sealed the victory in 17.5 overs losing three wickets. Indra Kamal Manandhar scored 21 runs for Kathmandu. Lamgade and Adhikari claimed a wicket each for Pokhara.